UPDATE 1-Telecom company NII loses half its value as revenue slumps

Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:06pm EST

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(Adds executive comments, details, shares)

By Lehar Maan

Feb 28 (Reuters) - NII Holdings Inc, which provides telecom services under the Nextel brand in Latin America, lost more than half its market value after the company reported a 22 percent drop in quarterly revenue and forecast slower user growth in Mexico.

The company's shares hit a more-than-decade low of $1.21 on Friday, wiping out about $230 million in market value.

"Mexico's contributions of subscriber growth is expected to be smaller, and also weighted toward the second half of the year," NII Chief Financial Officer Juan Figuereo said on a post-earnings conference call.

NII reported a net loss of 390,000 subscribers in Mexico, its second biggest market, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

The company lost a net 247,000 subscribers across all of its operations.

NII lost customers in Mexico due to problems with its roaming services after Sprint Corp, from which it licenses the Nextel brand for Latin America, shut its iDEN network in the country last June.

"Some of the customers were disappointed because they couldn't communicate with BTU users in the U.S.," NII Chief Operating Officer Gokul Hemmady said.

A modification of the company's deactivation policy for inactive prepaid subscribers also hurt customer retention.

NII reported lower revenue also from Brazil, where it is facing intense competition from four major companies.

NII also said it expected negative consolidated adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization for the full year as it invests to boost subscriber numbers.

"Our recent disappointing results have significantly impacted our liquidity position," Figuereo said in a statement.

NII's net loss widened to $745.8 million, or $4.33 per share in the fourth quarter, from $592.9 million, or $3.45 per share, a year earlier.

Operating revenue fell 21.7 percent to $1.08 billion, but was in line with the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Reston, Virginia-based company's shares were down 50.7 percent at $1.26 on Friday afternoon on the Nasdaq. (Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Kirti Pandey)

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